Bittersweet Saturday night
2020 FIA Formula One Sakhir Grand Prix – Qualifying – Saturday
Weather: FP3: clear night, 25.0-24.7°C air, 29.8-28.4°C track; Q: clear night, 23.8-24.0°C air, 26.9-26.5°C track
In the end, qualifying was a relatively civilised affair: the feared handbags at dusk did not materialise and, provided everyone got out of the way in time, drivers managed to go through the session as they intended.
Q1 was a tense segment, with 20 cars jostling for position on the limited asphalt available and tiny margins, courtesy of the short layout, dividing the drivers on the timesheets. It was a scrappy session for many, and unfortunately it ended up with Kimi missing the cut for the top 15. It wasn’t the result we expected and will mean the Finn has his work cut out in the race tomorrow, but it will be the challenge we have to face.
There was satisfaction on the other side of the garage, however, as Antonio produced a strong lap to claim a place in Q2 – bringing the intra-team qualifying battle to 8-8 and sending that particular contest down to the wire, next week.
In Q2, Antonio managed to edge Lando Norris’s McLaren to claim P14 on the grid – a position that gives him a good shot at fighting for the points in tomorrow’s race. It will be a long race – and not just in the sense of number of laps (87): we’ll give it our best and see what a final night around this crazy track will bring.
Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and CEO Sauber Motorsport AG: “It was an evening of two halves as Antonio put in a really good lap to claim a place in Q2 and was then able to qualify 14th. It’s a good result and one that allows us to fight for the top ten from the beginning of the race, so we can be satisfied with this. Unfortunately, Kimi was out in Q1 after a challenging session. He had a good feeling with the car in today’s earlier session, but it wasn’t possible to replicate that tonight. He will have a big task ahead of him tomorrow but anything can happen on this track. It’s going to be a long race tomorrow and we will need to be sharp from lights to flag.”
Kimi Räikkönen (car number 7):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 05/Ferrari)
3rd practice: 16th / 0:55.171 (20 laps) / Q1: 19th / 0:54.963 (11 laps)
“It’s not the result we were expecting after looking not too bad in FP3. We were just struggling in a few places and ended up being too slow to make the cut. It’s going to be a challenge tomorrow, it’s not easy to overtake around there, so let’s see what we can do when the race starts.”
Antonio Giovinazzi (car number 99):
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN C39 (Chassis 04/Ferrari)
3rd practice: 11th / 0:54.845 (20 laps) / Q1: 0:54.523 (8 laps) / Q2: 14th / 0:54.377 (6 laps)
“I was confident we could fight for a place in Q2 after last weekend. We knew it was not going to be easy with a slippery track and the traffic, but in the end we managed to get in the top 15 and put in a good lap in Q2 as well. I have to say thank you to the team, we have been in the right place at the right time, so it was a really good qualifying session. Now the focus is on tomorrow: the race will be messy, overtaking will be difficult and the blue flags will slow a lot of people down, so we need to play our strategy right. We can fight for a good result.”